Transferring property from yourself to your revocable or irrevocable trust is known as funding the trust. Only assets that are properly titled to the trust can avoid probate at your death. Exactly which assets you should transfer, depends on your financial picture -- but how you title the assets is the same for various trusts.
Transfer of Real Estate and Vehicles
When you transfer ownership of real estate from yourself to your trust, you grant the property to the trustee of the trust. If your trust is a living trust, you may serve as trustee to retain greater control over your assets. The deed must list the trustee as the recipient of the property, the complete name of the trust and the date it was created. For example, if the trustee is named Frank Smith and the trust was established by Suzy Jones, the deed will read: Frank Smith as Trustee of the Suzy Jones Revocable Trust dated September 20, 2013. The transfer is accomplished by recording the deed at the register of deeds in the county where the property is located. To transfer personal property, such as vehicles, to the trustee, apply to the proper government office in your state.
Bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other similar assets must be retitled to include the precise language naming the trustee as the new owner. If you choose to transfer assets that require named beneficiaries -- such as life insurance policies -- to the trust, you must name the trustee as beneficiary. Many financial institutions have specific forms they require you to fill out; some institutions will ask for a certified copy of your trust, while others will accept a shorter document that provides proof that your trust exists, which is often called a Certification of Trust.
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Valerie Stevens is a professional writer and editor based in the Carolinas. She was an editor at daily newspapers for 20 years and now works as a paralegal. She has edited several books and her work has been published in The Knoxville News-Sentinel, The Springfield Daily News, The Georgetown Times and Natural Awakenings magazine. Stevens holds degrees in journalism and paralegal studies.